Our pace slowed as we drove through the Dales.
North Yorkshire Dales, England - May 27-28, 1999
Up to this point we'd been packing in as many historic and interesting places as we could. But the Dales soaked into our spirits like a teabag in hot water. We took on more of the pace of rural life.
We stopped in the small town of Pateley Bridge in the Moors (on our way to the Yorkshire Dales) and while Henry had a lazy afternoon nap, Kathleen wandered the town and met Adam here. His entire class was spread out along the one main street. They were drawing buildings for their school art project. (The drawings will be put on an English tapestry for the millennium.)
Hi Adam! (click here to e-mail us!)
We began stopping at every scenic opportunity. Even though all the sheep looked the same, their settings kept calling out for more pictures.
One of our favorite things became stopping to meet the local people. Here Norman and Raymond are returning from their daily fishing expedition. They've retired from lives in industry and now enjoy the lovely summers of the Nidderdale valley. They explained why there's so many stone fences all over the north of England. It's the Land Enclosure Act which set off a sort of old-world land rush. Anyone who could enclose land got to keep it.
We asked them if the fences needed much work to maintain, and they said, "Aw no, they got holes in 'em that lets the air through. That way they don't fall down." (More about that later.)
These are the fences they spoke of. They lace the hillsides everywhere one looks. Like veins on a leaf they cut the countryside up into small fields. More than anything else they give this land its peaceful, pastoral feel.
We arrived in Richmond (our hometown's namesake!) on Market Day. Here the local chamois salesman is cutting and sorting his goods. Did you know it's not only the underbelly of the sheep but the second layer of skin? He took great pains to explain that the sheep are not killed for their skin, but for their meat. The skin is only used so we don't waste anything. (That makes it O.K..)
Very important part of the market here.
And here's the other side of the meat business the chamois salesman was talking about. Right in the middle of the street at five of five. This guy was hurrying to finish his rounds before the 'Bank Holiday Weekend.'
Taking an extra moment everywhere yielded special rewards.
When we left Richmond we realized we forgot to make a phone call. A half mile from our campsite we decided we had to find a phone. We feared we might miss the person we needed to reach and our minds returned to a busy state.
Hurrying down a narrow country road, we had no choice but to drop our agenda and take in the scenery. Once again our world shifted into a slower gear.
John and Caroline are the latest generation to help dad move the cows from milking barn to night pasture. (Their family's been on this patch of land for three generations, counting theirs. Tenant farming goes back in their family many generations more.)
Our errand for the phone waited along with the hay and everything else on that road.
The Horns invited us in for a cup of tea and sweets. That's the way it is here -- people don't think twice before opening their homes (this was the second time that day we'd been invited to tea.)
Gerald and Ann shared their pictures and stories with us and we shared ours with them. Since Henry had spent some time on farms in the US he was very keen to hear about some of the workings of the farms in the UK. (These plastic bags, for example, are wrapped hay bales which ferment into silage, removing the need for silage bins -- just don't let the wraps get holes in them or the bale rots and is wasted.)
Know how you need a passport to travel to another country? Well because of Mad Cow Disease, all cows in Britain need a passport. The Horns are quite upset about it as there's a tremendous amount of work involved (and failure to comply involves fines and even the threat of imprisonment). For the cattle passports, transport from one farm to another is the same as going from one country to another -- not only does the passport need to be stamped and kept with the animal, but a duplicate 'movement card' needs to be sent to the government.
The government says they need to do this so they can track where the meat comes from. Supposedly you can take any bar-coded package of beef in the country and they can tell you which farmer's pastures the animal ate in. Supposedly. The Horns say it is taking the fun out of farming.
(And by the way, speaking of no fun, remember those fences the retired folks said don't need repair? The Horns say they fix theirs all the time.)
At the end of the day (and they are very long -- sunsets at 9:45 and rises again at 5:30) we returned to our campsite. From here we can see the Horn's farm, and his neighbor's cows peek in our windows to see if anything good is cooking...
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